Joan Schulze @ Shenzhen University Art Gallery
Poetic License: Drawing, Quilts and Collage
Shenzhen University Art Gallery, China
September 10—26, 2016
In the beginning are Schulze and the materials. A pathway forward is forged.
Joan Schulze’s “Poetic License” presents an eclectic mix of works with narrative, both subtle and direct, drawings which are more subdued even playful, and collages in fiber and paper which border on being autobiographical. Using printed media to convey her interest in perceptions from life, the images and printed ephemera that she collects are used as a jumping off place to comment on woman’s roles, current events and smaller subjects such as the everydayness of things.
Schulze has distinct bodies of work: Collage in quilts and works on paper; Non-traditional drawings using packing tape and the photocopy machine; Haiku, an on-going series in small format, started in 1998.
It has been said that Schulze subverts and abstracts the written word or text in any language. Her drawings relate to childhood scribbles which morph into line, word and image. Meaning is subverted using fragments without regard for normal orientation. Upside down, inside out, truncated, rearranged, mirrored, ignoring scale until these collages take on different roles and meaning, seldom as they were intended. They are exuberant and optimistic, inviting you to pay attention to details. These work’s do not begin and end with her viewpoint. They often show how a person moves through the world paying attention to details and then translates the ineffable into form and a new meaning.
Schulze practices collage thinking. Taking fragments from many sources, juxtaposing elements that seem incongruous, she takes a meandering journey in the making of her collages and drawings by slicing, dicing, dissecting, editing, while layering the results into a coherent whole that goes beyond conventional compositions.
Surfaces are important to Schulze’s work. They have a textile quality whether using paper or fabric. Wrinkles and the accidental happening when glueing are celebrated and sought after. Her collages employ paper which when glued goes from crisp and graphic-like compositions to works that often become misty and painterly.
Themes move back and forth over time, to be revisited and reused. Her 2006-2012 toner drawing quilts have reappeared in the collaged packing tape lift drawings employing silk organza and stitching. Schulze improvises with her materials, working with them, reworking, cutting, combining as she does with her quilts.
Joan Schulze has a penchant for revisiting and revising previously finished work. Time and a new point-of-view is embraced. A door is opened. The move towards the unpredictable is set in motion. It might be a small edit but on occasion the older work becomes a totally new creation.
Her packing tape drawings  rely on improvisation and the chance happening promulgated by the American artist John Cage. Each revisit can create the impulse to change and change again. This is best illustrated by her collage quilt Nine Sisters, started in 2015 and revised several times, finishing in mid-2016. Her revisionist campaigns often are to face the chaos created in the making and to stare things down until the need to change is silenced. The journey after all is paramount.